Many of us have friends and family that fall in to the non auto enthusiast category of people, and often times these people will ask us things like “why do you modify cars” and “isn't factory good enough”. We here at Circuit94 answer with a resounding NO. Granted we are a team of 3 racing drivers so naturally we feel this way but more importantly we like to see the difference and evolution of a car over the factory form. Case in point Damir Pecenkovic's #19 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata. The ND Miata is a perfectly good and fun car in factory trim, especially in the Club trim level, however there is room for improvement and there is potential to turn a good car in to a great car.
Shortly after Damir purchased his Miata he had a chance to take it out to the Ridge MotorSport Park in Shelton, WA and was able to lay down a lap of 2:36:16. Not a terrible lap time, but not a very good one either. Damir complained of excessive body roll and not feeling like the car was very stable in certain corners and more so complaining about the stock tires being complete crap and offering little to no grip in the compound and more importantly in the narrow tire size accompanied with narrow seven inch wheels.
The car was great fun and enjoyable, and was doing better than many other cars out there, but Damir felt that it just wasn’t where it needed to be. This is where modifications and track time practice come in to play. Shortly after the car was fitted with some lowering springs, stickier 245/40/17 200TW tires, nine inch wide wheels and a set of sway bars and Damir was able to lay down a time of 2:26:19. An improvement of almost ten entire seconds. This might not sound like a lot, but in terms of racing, ten seconds is an eternity. Aside from adding a few parts to give the car better grip and to help the body from rolling so much, the parts also gave Damir better feel and confidence allowing him to get faster lap after lap. Happy with the improvement this time out Damir decided to call it a day, but felt like there was still more to be had out of the car.
The third time out the #19 Miata was finally sporting its new livery and more importantly some new aero in the form of a fully functional rear diffuser from Verus Engineering. On top of the aero the car was fitted with even more capable sway bars, cold air intake and a tune to take full advantage of all of the cars bolt ons. With these changes and some more seat time Damir was able to lay down a time of 2:07:29, a nineteen second improvement over the last time out. Take a second and let that sink in, previously we mentioned how big of a improvement ten seconds was, and now we are talking about nineteen seconds, or more importantly almost a half a minute faster lap time the third time out when compared to the car’s initial time out. That is simply insane. In the world of lap times half a minute is simply amazing and very rarely come by but none the less the ND was quite happily outpacing its previous best.
Damir was extremely impressed and pleased with the cars improvement in just a few track days but more importantly knew that there was plenty more left in the car. This giant half minute improvement was done without full aero, which btw was on its way from Verus Engineering, without full suspension, with coilovers on their way from Tein, and most importantly the car was still on the stock Mazda brakes. This was also going to be solved with a Good Win Racing Wilwood big brake kit on its way. Knowing that the car still faced all of these limitations Damir knew that there was plenty left and set himself a goal of cracking under the 2 minute barrier by shooting for a mid 1:50 time. Let's see if it can be done.
After the latest update to the #19 car, the installation of coilovers, EDFC Active Pro, a big brake kit and the rest of the aero kit from Verus Engineering (front splitter, suspension covers and rear panels) we had a chance to let the car stretch its legs at another track day at the Ridge Motorsports Park. With all of the parts installed it was clear from the initial lap out that this cars was a whole new animal and really didn't have much left that was limiting its total potential, well, at least not mechanically. The truth is at this point the car is much better built than the drivers ability. As noted before Damir was shooting for a sub two minute lap time, a time that he unfortunately has yet to reach, after all of the updates he managed to shave another two seconds plus with a time of 2:05:09 but was unable to crack the two minute barrier. Truth be told at this point it's the driver that needs modifying as the #19 car was able to run a 1:52:12 lap time with a much more experienced driver behind the wheel. This simply is the beauty of racing, and the age old rule of practice makes perfect. Now knowing what the car is capable of, Damir will return next season hoping to achieve his goal.